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Elective: Close-Reading Comics: Hybrid Storytelling in Graphic Memoirs

Vak
2017-2018

Admission requirements

This course is only available for second year students in the BA International Studies.
The number of participants is limited to 25.

Description

Perhaps because of their very accessibility, comic strips (sometimes called “commix”) and graphic novels have only recently come to be recognized as a serious art form requiring specific reading skills and a literary sensibility. Although hybrid forms of word-and-image storytelling have been around since the Bayeux tapestry, and there is a long and global underground tradition of graphic narrative, a pivotal moment in the genre’s road to mainstream recognition has no doubt been the publication of Art Spiegelman’s Maus (1980).

This course approaches a subgenre of comics – graphic memoir – from various vantage points: as a means of narrating trauma and memory, as a form of resistance to dominant culture, as a mode of transcultural communication, and as an underground medium grown up. Spiegelman has described it as “a gutter medium; that is, it’s what takes place in the gutters between the panels that activates the medium.” On one level that characterization attends to how commix must be read, and on another to the place from which they are presumably drawn.

This course sets out to investigate how graphic memoirs can be read, what modes of storytelling and what kinds of stories they promote, and how they negotiate memory, identity, culture and politics. To research this, we will close-read and contextualize graphic memoirs (and some adjacent texts and genres) from a range of geographical, social, and cultural locations.

Additionally, the students will work through:

  • W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, J.W. Williams, The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Course objectives

The elective courses for International Studies are designed to teach students how to deal with state-of-the-art literature and research questions. They are chosen to enhance the students’ learning experience by building on the interdisciplinary perspectives they have developed so far, and to introduce them to the art of academic research. They are characterised by an international or comparative approach.

Academic skills that are trained include:

Oral presentation skills:

1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation; b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria; c. using up-to-date presentation techniques; d. aimed at a specific audience;
3. to actively participate in a discussion following the presentation.

Collaboration skills:

1. to be socio-communicative in collaborative situations;
2. to provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position;
3. adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.

Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:

1. to collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques;
2. to analyze and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability;
3. to formulate on this basis a sound research question;
4. to design under supervision a research plan of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved;
5. to formulate a substantiated conclusion.

Written presentation skills:

1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation; b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria; c. using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques; d. aimed at a specific audience.

Timetable

The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction

Seminars are held every week, with the exception of the midterm exam week. This course includes supervised research.

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 10 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), this equals 280 hours, broken down by:

  • Attending lectures: 2 hours per week x 12 weeks = 24 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature and completing weekly assignments (8 hours per week): 100 hours

  • Preparation for presentations: 16 hours

  • Writing the final research essay (including reading / research): 140 hours

Assessment method

Assessment & Weighing

Partial grade Weighing
In-class participation 15%
Seminar outline 5%
In-class presentation 30%
Final research essay (5000 words) 50%

End grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note that the end grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average.

Resit

Students who have been active participants in class and submitted the final paper on time, but scored an overall insufficient mark, are entitled to a resit. For the resit, students are given a chance to hand in a new version of the final paper.
In case of resubmission of the final essay (insufficient grade only) the final grade for the essay will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion. The deadline for resubmission is 10 working days after receiving the grade for the final essay.

Retaking a passing grade

Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2017 – 2018.

Exam review

How and when an exam review takes place will be determined by the examiner. This review will be within 30 days after official publication of exam results.

Blackboard

Blackboard will be used for tutorial groups. Students are requested to enroll on Blackboard for this course, but only after correct enrolment in uSis.

Reading list

  • Will Eisner, A Contract with God (1978)

  • Art Spiegelman, Maus I & II (1980-1991)

  • Joe Sacco, Palestine (1997)

  • Craig Thompson, Blankets (2003)

  • Guy Delisle, Pyongyang (2004)

  • Alison Bechdel, Fun Home (2006)

  • Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis (2007)

  • David Small, Stitches (2009)

  • David Mazzucchelli, Asterios Polyp (2009)

  • Tom Hart, Rosalie Lightning (2016)

The texts on the reading list will have to be purchased (they are all between € 10-20 and easily available) – other reading material will be provided through Blackboard.

The following book will also be used:

  • W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, J.W. Williams, The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Registration

Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis can be found here.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.

Contact

Dr. M. van Gageldonk

When contacting the lecturer, please include your full name, student number and tutorial group number.

Remarks

The deadline for submission of the final essay is 15 June 2018.
Passing this course is an entry requirement for the thesis and thesis seminar.